The Meadows Senior Fellow Dr. Peter Levine presents: In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness this Thursday, April 2 at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch Arizona Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The presentation discusses how trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder, but is rather an injury caused by paralyzing fright, helplessness and loss. By enlisting the wisdom of the living sensing body, and engaging our innate capacity to self-regulate high states of arousal and intense emotions, trauma can be transformed and healed. There will also be a discussion on the roots of addiction in unresolved trauma, insecure attachment, and in habitual childhood frustration.
Dr. Levine draws on over 40 years experience as a pioneering body-oriented clinician with a focus on stress, biology, child development and discoveries in neurosciences. He shows that it is possible to live life robustly with pleasure and creativity even in the face of the most painful assaults to our humanity, as well as in the face of deceptively trivial ones.
From an evolutionary understanding of the source of trauma, to a spiritual dimension of how we as human beings can be strengthened by traumatic healing – we learn to attend to the “unspoken voice of the body.”
Date Thursday, April 2, 2015
Location Hyatt Regency Scottsdale
Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Time 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Lunch provided by The Meadows
To RSVP please contact
Peter A. Levine, PhD, holds doctorates in both medical biophysics and psychology. The developer of Somatic Experiencing®, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma, and founder of the Foundation for Human Enrichment, he conducts trainings in this work throughout the world and in various indigenous cultures. Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA on the development of the space shuttle project and was a member of the Institute of World Affairs Task Force of Psychologists for Social Responsibility in developing responses to large-scale disasters and ethno-political warfare. Levine’s international bestseller, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, has been translated into twenty-two languages. His recent interests include the prevention of trauma in children, and he has co-written two books, with Maggie Kline, in this area: Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids. Levine’s original contribution to the field of Body-Psychotherapy was honored in 2010 when he received the Life Time Achievement award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP). For further information on Dr. Levine’s trainings, projects and literature, visit www.traumahealing.com and www.somaticexperiencing.com.
PLEASE NOTE: You must RSVP to receive a continuing education certificate. Two continuing education credits or two NBCC clock hours will be given.
You must attend the lecture in its entirety. No partial credit will be given. No exceptions. Please note that it is your responsibility to contact your licensing/certifi cation boards to determine eligibility to meet your continuing education requirements.
Written by a former active duty military personnel, currently employed at Gentle Path at The Meadows
In a world that is constantly in strife and war, we as a nation call upon the select few that have dedicated their lives in service to our country—the protectors of our freedom. Although the sound of military life may seem glamorous to some, the situations that these men and women find themselves in not only affect their lives, but the people’s lives who love them the most.
What soldiers experience in deployment will last longer than the smoke and sounds of gun fire; it is a constant memory that haunts you when awake and terrifies you when asleep. The nightmares are never ending until you finally face the trauma that haunts your life.
In these dark days a soldier tries to find hope in anything he or she can, not only for themselves, but for their families; it’s the little things, things that so many take for granted in the normal hustle and bustle of life. Things like the laughter of a child, the rain pouring down, a warm thank you from a stranger, a gentle kiss on the check, and even the wind on your face can for a second take away the gnawing pain in your heart. But even in these moments the things you did, the things you’ve see, the lives you impacted, the faceless terrors you encountered, hide in the shadows constantly reminding you of those memories, of that pain, every day.
However, in the midst of all of this pain and hurt, service men and women stand on the military values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Self Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Finding a place that shares in these values and longs to see lives changed is hard, but it is an important part of healing and a necessary path that we must walk on. I asked myself several times how important it was for me to face my demons, and the answer was always “Very.” Waking up in a cold sweat—my best friend sitting there worrying, trying to make the nightmares leave—I realized that trauma doesn’t just change your life, but all the lives of the people you love most.
What kind of a soldier would I be if I didn’t protect those I love? Without facing my demons, how can I overcome them? Without overcoming them, how can I truly be free? Without being free how can I fully live in love, life, beauty and everything else this world has to offer away from the wars I faced? So I have the choice to face it, putting a new example on the idea of personal courage and self-sacrifice, still holding true to those values that I swore to honor and respect and carry with me as part of the uniform I wore.
Every day military personnel put on that uniform, tie up their boots and head into the fire fights that await, battles by our side, with our families praying at home, dreaming that one day their loved one will come home safe. However, even at home these individuals are not fully safe from themselves and the memories that torment them with every breath. But there is hope for a better life, and there is a future once the smoke fades and the ringing of the bullets dies.
The importance of healing from the effects of war can make or break the rest of your life. Support is rare, and it’s often hard to find a positive place to work out the battle wounds—a safe place to heal with no judgment. However, it does exist and there is hope. When searching for a safe place to do my own work, I was urged to look for someone/some place that holds my same values—sage advice.
It’s called LIFE, it’s called FREEDOM and it’s what we fight everyday to defend, so it’s time to fight for ourselves and our families by taking back our FUTURES.
The Meadows is honored to provide behavioral health and substance abuse inpatient services, with an emphasis on trauma, PTSD, and addictive disease disorders, to active duty military members, retirees and dependents of the TRICARE West Region. The Meadows has a long history of working with TRICARE beneficiaries as a non-contracted provider. We are tremendously proud to help serve the health care needs of service members, veterans, and their families, and would be happy to help determine eligibility and benefits that can be utilized at The Meadows. We are committed to helping military beneficiaries and partnering with all aspects of the TRICARE healthcare alliance. For more information, call us at 800-244-4949 or go visit our contact page.
By: Sandra Lehmann, Trauma Counselor at The Meadows
I am currently going through the professional training program on Somatic Experiencing ® (SE) – a psychobiological method for the resolution and healing of trauma. I was struck by what the trainer taught us regarding the concept of society being addicted to the “red vortex.” The red vortex represents trauma and intensity (think the evening news). In the training, we learn how people get sucked into the red vortex as they reach the edges of intense experiences and that reliving the intensity of what happened in that experience is not healing. The trainer spoke about how it is not our fault that we are red addicted; we are born into a society that is inherently disconnected from our true nature, which is to live in harmony with nature and one another. SE therapy helps the patient reconnect with their body’s inherent ability to heal.
A key point of SE is that after we have a traumatic experience we tend to live in extremes – either avoiding intensity by trying to feel good all the time (think addiction), or living out intense experiences that activate the nervous system similar to the original trauma. In the SE training, we are taught to move towards the “blue vortex” first – feeling safe and socially connected – before moving towards the red. This back and forth movement gets lost in trauma.
The goal of SE is to increase our flexibility to move back and forth between both the pleasure and pain life offers and to have resiliency so we can be present to what is happening in the here and now. By being in the here and now, we have an embodied experience which allows us to be present for self and others. Imagine what the world would look like if we each learn to be that engaged in our own process so we can connect with others in such an open way.
To learn more about Somatic Experiencing® and how it can improve your life, contact The Meadows at 800-244-4949 with your questions, and start receiving the help you need.
Since becoming a Tricare Preferred Provider, The Meadows has had the privilege to provide behavioral health and substance abuse inpatient services, with an emphasis on trauma, PTSD, and addictive disease disorders, to active duty military members, retirees and dependents of the TRICARE West Region. The Meadows has a long history of working with TRICARE beneficiaries and has seen great success and an increase in the utilization of services by all branches of the military.
While the world class trauma and addiction services The Meadows provides has proven to be a great resource for our military service members, it is acknowledged that there are unique needs military patients require. Retired and active duty women and men who enter treatment present with problems that are, on the surface, similar to those of non-military patients. However, the driving forces behind these problems are usually different and unique to military service.
Studies indicate that military personnel respond best to a group of their peers and often are not comfortable in group therapy with civilians. The Meadows recognizes this special need and has elected to accommodate it by incorporating a “Military Only” group where the protectors of our freedom are able to be more comfortable as they begin healing.
The Meadows continues to strive to be a resource to our military and is humbled to be able to give back to those who have given so much on our behalf.
Submitted by James Naughton, MA, LPC, LISAC, Advanced Trained SE, Level II EMDR Practitioner
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first introduced into psychiatry in the 1980s, and was originally viewed as something rare, affecting only combat soldiers. Today, we understand that just about anyone at any age can manifest symptoms PTSD, and that the sources of trauma are various and uniquely impacting to an individual’s own capacity to respond to threat – whether it be emotional or physical .
Fortunately, not everyone that has experienced, witnessed or been confronted with “an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury” and felt “intense fear, helplessness, or horror” develop PTSD, and those that live with the intrusive-thoughts, emotional numbing and avoidance are discovering that their own bodies hold the key to healing the mind and through undiscovered natural and organic resiliencies that reside in all of us.
Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. the originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing®, and a senior fellow with The Meadows characterises trauma and the symptoms of PSTD not as “a disorder”, but as “thwarted instincts” i.e., incomplete self-protective responses (fight, flight an freeze), held within the body and the autonomic nervous system in a state of complete or partial immobility. When an individual has to face a “perceived” or actual life threatening crisis (the movement from perception of threat into active defense may happen in milliseconds) our nervous system develops a plan for escaping it; however, “If we are overwhelmed by the threat and are unable to successfully defend ourselves, we can become stuck in survivor mode. “ And, adds Dr. Levine, this highly charged state of arousal “is designed solely to enable short-term defensive actions; but, left untreated over time, it begins to form the symptoms of trauma.” A useful visual metaphor , that is demonstrated in Somatic Experiencing training seminars, is the Slinky® toy – normally the nervous system flows energetically like the a metal helical spring moving between two hands (sympathetic activation to parasympathetic deactivation, “on” to “off” , “accelerator” to “brake” or physical expansion and contraction, etc.) , but when internal resources are marshalled quickly within the body, the slinky is energetically and physically stretched and moving faster , demonstrating full escape and/or fight response to the event. However, when the nervous system senses these self-protective plans are overwhelmed i.e. escape is not possible, it’s hardwired to protect us from this over stimulation, and sometimes we shift into a state of freeze or dissociation – and the Slinky® is clamped down and compressed tightly, and consequentially our bodies have to use resources and strategies to keep this flight/flight energy contained. In addition, according to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, PH.D, overseer of the non-profit clinic in Boston, The Trauma Center, and senior fellow at The Meadows, these un-integrated responses, thoughts and feelings left untreated and/or “completed” make it difficult for anyone “to be fully present in the here and now.”
This may explain why after weeks, months, and even years after a trauma experience, persons with un-discharged traumatic stress feel like their stuck in the “on-position” - feel anxious, panicky at times, hyperactive, unable to relax, restlessness, digestive problems sleeplessness , emotionally flooded to feelings of hostility/rage and hyper-vigilant, or stuck in the “off-position” – depressed, exhausted, at times disoriented or dissociative, a loss of vitality or feeling of “deadness”, chronic fatigue and emotional flatness. Living in our bodies, like being inside running a car with one foot on the accelerator and one simultaneously on the brake, can dramatically impact the natural experience of “connectiveness” – a sense of being a part of and engaged with the world , and like many of patients that arrive to The Meadows, can eventually resort to chemicals and/or behaviors (i.e. sex, gambling work, food) to just dampen down or feel alive or as it’s been said, “Just do time on planet earth.” But today, with what has been learned about the human brain and nervous system over the last ten years, bringing to bear multiple disciplines of examination (neurological, psychological, sociological and biological), the capacity and the resources to heal and “recapture” innate resiliencies/resources, after a traumatic event, resides within us and eventually manifest as a return “home” to ourselves and the world of humanity.
Trauma healing focuses more on honoring and acknowledging a nervous system’s injuries, vulnerabilities and strengths, and “holding a space” of safety as the body and mind gradually move from constricted states of immobility and low energy “I can’t.” to increased mobility and engagement “I can”. Modalities of care for trauma like Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique, Psychodrama, and Expressive Art Therapy, can not only help survivors of trauma complete these natural self-protective responses , but eventually come to believe that they are “the heroes of their own story.”
At The Meadows, we attempted to “create a safe space” in our newly developing “Brain Center” that not only offers the aforementioned modalities, but also has a “drop-in” center were patients can have access to Cranial Electro Stimulation (CES), Heart Rate Variability systems (HRV) and Hemoencephalography Biofeedback (HEG), to strengthen bilateral communication in the hemispheres of the brain and increase blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex to foster mood stability and a greater capacity to observe emotions, thoughts and experiences without feeling overwhelmed. Ultimately, for the patients, instead of coming to a place to feel safe, in time they can discover and learn to cultivate a safe and resilient space within themselves , and return home with more choices in their own recovery.
There are activities all of us do to in our own self-care that can promote our nervous systems innate capacity to restore itself and remain “elastic” as we recover from illness, depression, anxiety and addictions:
- Expand and develop a support system : Social support helps with meaning in life – feeling loved and cared for releases oxytocin and counteract effect of stress hormones.
- Moderate exercise, Yoga and Tai-Chi: Releases endorphins, a natural opioid, that heightens reward system, improves sleep and one’ sown sense of ability. Also, it can promote “neurogenesis” in many areas of the brain , i.e., hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
- Meditation and prayer: Enhances mind-body connection, quiets sensitized structures in the limbic system and strengthens connections to executive functioning, for an increased capacity for mindfulness and access to “moral self”. Fosters healthy humility.
“Each individual has their questions about life, about the purpose of their existence, the meaning of it all. There are those who would allow others to influence their answers to life. There are those who believe there are no answers, so why bother? And then there are seekers. The seekers are the ones who will become co-authors of their lives. They are the ones who will live life to the fullest, understand a need to experience all emotions, stay open to the truth of who they are, and embrace the gifts of choice and change.”
- Barb Rogers: Twenty-Five Words- How The Serenity Prayer Can Save Your Life